Biden Administration Considers Reimplementing Detention of Migrant Families

Migrants are seen detained in a U.S. Detention Facility. (Creative Commons)

The Biden administration is said to be discussing reimplementing a Trump-era immigration policy that detained migrant families who illegally crossed into the United States, according to The New York Times. The policy–once deplored by then-candidate Biden–was scrapped early on in the President’s administration, following a relentless campaign against the harsh regulations that plagued American television screens with overflowing detention facilities and separated families during the 2020 election cycle. 

While the administration has yet to announce any formal changes on immigration policy relating to the detention of certain migrants, reimplementation of the policy would largely gut the entry of illegal immigrants into the U.S., most of whom are fleeing harrowing living conditions in South America. On the 2020 campaign trail, Biden tweeted: “Children should be released from ICE detention with their parents immediately,” following a decision from a federal judge ordering the release of detained migrants because of the pandemic.

 The current rules issued by the Department of Homeland Security have allowed migrant families to temporarily enter the U.S. while they await assignment to an immigration officer, giving families smartphones to keep track of their movements. The initiative drew sharp criticism from congressional Republicans late last year, tainting the administration as handing out phones to illegal immigrants for free. 

Just last month, the President issued a flurry of new rules to crack down on illegal immigration crossings, including one that is said to potentially disqualify most migrants from seeking asylum. The urgency comes ahead of a looming May 11 deadline that will officially end Title 42, the legally embattled emergency policy that allowed U.S. Customs and Border Control to turn away migrants at the border–initially intended to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. The rule is credited with preventing an outright governmental catastrophe that would have sunk an already exacerbated immigration system. 

The change in tone is part of a more aggressive–and arguably conservative–approach to governing by President Biden across a host of issues, like the humanitarian crisis at the border or the crime wave many American cities are facing. Last week, The White House changed course and said the President pledged to sign into law a Republican-led resolution that would reject proposed changes in the criminal code from the D.C. City Council. The political turnaround resulted in a fiery string of backlash from many progressive Democrats on the Hill. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) took to Twitter late last week, responding to the President: “This ain’t it. DC has a right to govern itself, like any other state or municipality.” 

Led by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the new Republican House promises to hold the administration accountable, interrogating many high-ranking officials on Capitol Hill. Numerous Republicans have even begun calling for the impeachment of some cabinet members, including Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.